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Sunday, May 31, 2015

#TheColorRun: Sigh... Not the Ending I Expected

Usually when I get my swag bag before a race I am super pumped to hold up the cool new shirt, get my safety pins adhered to my bib, and check to see if there are any sweet discounts on any upcoming local races.


Not this time. 

Unfortunately I was unable to compete in this color run due to a flare up of bursitis and tendinitis. The worse part is that it's not even in my feet or legs- it's in my shoulder. But it still requires that I take a week or two off from running or power-walking because of the rotation of my shoulder when I exercise.

A fellow 2015 Miles in 2015 team member was supposed to come visit me to complete The Color Run with me, but when I became unable, she decided to skip it too. So that we weren't completely out her registration fees I still went and picked up our race packets so we could at least get the swag. I was also really sad because I had actually won this FREE race entry- one of the few times I have won anything in my entire life- and couldn't even use it. (Shout out to Jen Schmitt of JustAMomGivingItATri for the raffle a few months back).
Luckily it's only a week or so that I'm off from running, and my next big running goal of two halfs in one weekend isn't until October. 

So I guess this post-race blog post is the first I've ever written where I didn't actually compete in or complete the race, which is weird. And hopefully rare. 

This year is proving to be the year of injuries with my February stress fractured tibia and now this, and it's only halfway through. Hopefully I have experienced my share of setbacks and will have an awesome second half of 2015.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Beauty in #Running

This past week I was able to stay back home with my parents in Clear Lake, IA. They are lucky enough to live on a lake and although it rained most of the time I was there, I was lucky enough to get in a few really gorgeous walks and runs. While there I saw deer, rabbits, geese, fish, turtles, snakes, squirrels, frogs, butterflies, countless kinds of birds... This trip was truly inspirational. Even though I am now battling an injury that is preventing me from running for a few weeks, this last trip was enough to re-energize me so that I will be ready to get back at it soon.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Oh Summer Days

Am I the only weird mom that actually looks forward to summer break?

I am one of the lucky ones that gets to work as an educator so I have a lot of time off with my kids throughout the year, especially in the summer. Now I realize that there are many, many parents out there must work year-round, 8-5 jobs who probably dread trying to arrange childcare for their kids during long breaks off. These hard-working parents spend their time arranging and weighing summer school, childcare, and nannies with the cost, convenience and structure that all of these options offer. The struggle sounds stressful, and difficult.

Since I don't have that struggle, I get to figure out a whole different kind of arrangement.

I get to arrange what I get to do with my kids all day all summer long.

I don't dread this at all; I actually look forward to it. Now I do wonder if my planning will work, and am hopeful my daily schedule will be followed, but I don't mind planning out our summer together.

We are really going to have fun this year!

This summer I will have a 3, a 5 and a 7-year-old that I will be caring for, teaching and taking places. I am super excited because as my kids age, although I am pretty much constantly sad lately that my baby is not a baby anymore, my children are much more independent than they ever have been.

So what do I plan to do this summer?

1. Break up lots and lots of fights. Yes, I am going to go ahead and put this one right at the top of my schedule. I am certain this will be the item during my day that happens most often, right along side opening up juice boxes and picking up toys. My kids fight and argue a lot and there is something about the combination of having three children that always seems to leave one feeling left out.

2. Actually teach them. We will do homework every day this summer, and it will be in the morning, and it will come before iPads and playing with friends. Due to some awesome teachers the kids have had this year, a neighbor that is a kindergarten teacher, as well as my own research, I am confident I will be able to help my kids retain, and even gain, a little knowledge this summer. I am struggling the most with finding things for the 3-year-old, but I have some ideas.

3. Learn to swim, ride bikes and tie their own shoes. My older two children will become better swimmers this summer, and we will visit our neighborhood pool as much as possible. I'd like the 3-year-old to get used to being in the pool without his Puddle Jumper too. The older two will also learn to ride bikes with no training wheels. Tying their own shoes will also be a focal point this summer; it's ridiculous that I have a near-2nd grader that still can't tie his own shoes. My son has absolutely no interest in learning this skill- I may have the first highschooler some day that can't tie his own shoes.

4. Take them on field trips. We will go to the zoo, farms, parks, a beach, and the library this summer. I'd like to try other places as well.  I would love to go to two places each week, but will commit to at least one trip per week.

5. Spend time playing with them. I am really lucky that I have a full-time career that affords me the ability to stay home with my kids a lot of the time. I always feel so busy when I am home with my kids during the school year though, when I am trying to teach and grade work for my on ground and online classes. This summer I have really cut back my teaching load to one online class and one evening class so I will have time to actually play with my children as much as possible. Blocks, puzzles, Playdoh, games, baseball, slides, swings, parks... We are going to play.

Alright, now this is pretty ambitious, and I'm kind of interested to see what my end-of-summer post will look like. I am not going to pretend that keeping my kids on a schedule and having plans each week will be easy, but I am hopeful. 

What are you doing with your kids this summer? I'd love to know! Share your ideas and hopes below.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#WalkMS 2015: Fundraising Goal Met and Super Swag

Before the walk started, my niece and I smiling for photos. 
Photo credit Annie Smith.

First off, a huge THANK YOU to those of you that donated to Team Kennedys Kickin' it. I am proud to say that I exceeded my personal fundraising goal of $250 and reached $270! In total our team raised $4130.40, which truly was incredible.

This past weekend I walked in Walk MS for the first time, in support of my cousin and other family members and friends that have Multiple Sclerosis. After I committed to participating and started asking people to donate, I discovered that I have acquaintances and friends who have MS that I never knew did. I am so happy that I was able to provide support to this important event.

I had to get up at 3:50 am to get ready, get my 1-year-old son out of bed and in the car, and be to my sisters house across town by 5 am. My sister and I then left Kansas City around 5 am with her two kids and my son. We had a three hour drive to Des Moines, and pulled into the event parking lot at 8:20 am, just in time to register and check out the expo. It sounds hectic, but it really wasn't that bad.

Before the walk started there were several expo booths set up with free swag for participants. This was by far the most swag I have ever gotten from a race/walk event. The venders (mostly pharmaceutical representatives plugging their MS drugs) basically showered you with free stuff, ranging from water bottles, to bottle openers, to a cooling towel, lightweight backpacks, energy snacks, journals, chap stick... and more! There was no guilt involved and the venders were basically competing to give away their stuff to participants. I didn't even get everything and I felt like I had so much free stuff in my arms!

Did I say holy swag bag?

Directly prior to the start of the walk children released orange balloons into the air to symbolize remembrance to those stricken with and taken by MS. 

My son in orange, watching the released balloons float away.

The walk itself was really nice and it was the perfect day for it, although the route was not marked very well at times. You had the option of walking a 1.5 or a 4 mile walk. My immediate family and I ended up walking the 4 mile route, but ended up trekking 5.6 miles because we missed a trail marker and had to backtrack about 3/4 mile to get back on the official route. We told other participants we saw that they had missed the marker too, so at least we weren't the only absent-minded walkers! My 9-year-old niece did a great job of keeping up with the extra mileage and even ran the last quarter mile! I was really proud of her.

My niece and I standing by our team sign.

Running through the finish (although it says start!) line.

It felt good to see family, extended family and so many other participants in the event. I am definitely interested in walking again, but it was a long drive for such a short event held so early in the morning. After we crossed the finish line, the event was over and most people had left. Other running/walking events that I have participated in seem to have more of a celebration afterward, but I've never done a walk for this cause before so it must be structured a little differently. Luckily we had planned to stay in Des Moines that night to spend time with immediate family; making a weekend trip out of the walk was definitely a good idea, or possibly staying in town the night before.

My family and I before the event.

It felt awesome to raise funds, participate in and give time and energy to such a worthy cause. I know there are Walk MS events in Kansas City, and all over the US for that matter. It is really easy to register and get involved. I really didn't know much about this disease until this year. Knowing what I know now, I am happy to contribute what I can to fight MS. Go orange!

Team Kennedys Kickin It, 2015. Photo credit Annie Smith.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ten Thoughts All #Runners Have Had

1. I'm feeling so constipated the last few days. I need to go on a long run.

2. This 8-mile run feels so awesome! I think I could run 5 more!

3. This 3-mile run is excruciating. How did I ever run a marathon?

4. I am going to plan my route so that I can avoid as many stoplights as possible.

5. I am going to plan my route so that I can take as many stoplight breaks as possible.

6. Really wish I would have remembered to wear a sports bra.

7. I paid more in race registrations than groceries this month.

8. Good thing I went for a run, since I just ate ___________.

9. If I stretch this run out a little longer I might just miss bath time... (insert evil mommy smile).

10. Remind me again why I'm setting my alarm for 4:45 a.m. to get in a run?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Are You Still on Track With Your #2015 #NewYearsResolutions?

The Year 2015 is nearly 1/3 over and it has been a few months since I reviewed my New Year's Resolutions. I haven't forgotten them though, and although I haven't posted about them in awhile, I am still working hard to accomplish them.

Resolution 1: Run 15 miles per week
Barring my weeks of in January and February due to injury, which I don't count, I have still ran an average of, or over, 15 miles per week. I always set that as my weekly goal and know by the last few days of the week how may miles I need to run to reach it (like tomorrow I need run at least 3). Right now when I am not training for anything particular it is nice to have this resolution, as well as my 2015 Miles in 2015 team challenge, to keep me active and accountable.

Resolution 2. Run the I-35 Challenge
I have registered for the Kansas City Half on October 18th, and the Des Moines Half on October 19th. I have registered separately to be part of the I-35 Challege, which basically means that if I am able to finish both races that weekend, I will get an additional bib, shirt and medal. During my 5 mile run this morning I started thinking about what my training plan for this will be like starting later this summer. If anyone out there has heard of a "2 halfs in one weekend" training plan, please feel free to pass it along.

Resolution 3. Less mindless, time draining, useless playing on my phone.
Like I had planned, I didn't play Hit it Rich from December 31, 2014 until Easter (until after Lent). For a few weeks after Easter, I played some, and found myself once again spending too much time on the app on my phone. I deleted this app from my phone, as well as my other 2 casino apps. I do still play on Facebook occasionally through my PC, but since I am only on my actual computer for work or blogging, I really am not playing much at all. I have definitely done a good job of focusing on this one the last several months.

Resolution 4. Pray more.
I am still working hard on this resolution. I want to make this a focus the next few months and continue to develop and cherish my relationship with God. 

An old friend gave me this when I graduated from high school, and it still sits on my office desk so that I can read it every day. Jen Schmitt, did you know I still have, and display this? A small gift that sure has helped me throughout the years. Thank you.

How are your resolutions coming along? I'd love to hear! Please comment below.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Minecraft: A New Take on Hide and Go Seek

"Hey, come and get me!" my 5-year-old daughter exclaimed to her 3-year-old little brother.

"No, you count!" he cried.

"Fine. 1, 2, 3...12! Ready or not, here I come!" she screamed with excitement!

It was really adorable to hear them play so well together. It was nostalgic; hide and seek was one of my favorite games to play when I was a kid.

But then I figured something out. 

They weren't playing a traditional game of Hide-and-Go-seek. They were both logged into the same Minecraft world, taking turns hiding, and then finding one another. It was really a strange thing to listen to; and a bit ingenious. 

Instead of playing together physically, they were playing a physical game in a virtual world.

The way children use technology is incredible. I am constantly astounded by all three of my children's technological skills- and they are all 6 years or younger! 

But, as with all good things, it must come to an end.

We have had to use strategies lately to limit the amount of iPad and Xbox time the kids are allowed, and we diligently incorporate No Cell Phone Sunday into our weekly routines. It still seems like they are constantly trying to play on devices more than they want to play with each other or with physical toys. And my oldest would prefer most days to play with his friends through devices than with a baseball bat and glove in the yard.

I am torn on this. I have had elementary educators tell me that games like Minecraft are great for things like the expression of creativity, or to learn about different types of building materials. 

But socially I am not convinced that the almost addiction like behaviors and isolation tendencies my kids exhibit are healthy. But I also know that technology is going to continue to enhance, be incorporated and possibly even overpower much of our culture as time progresses; I don't want my kids to be left behind.

I also know that I will barely remain sane if I have to listen to one more Stampy Minecraft video on YouTube. 

As the summer approaches I will be home with all three kids, all day long and I have big ideas for how our daily schedules will go. I have penciled in a little daily time for device use, as well as traditional homework, crafts, outdoor and field trip activities. 

So as I plan a Minecraft themed birthday party for this weekend, I have to keep wondering what the perfect balance of encouragement and discouragement of using devices is. 

I'd love to hear your opinion on this. How do you deal with this phenomenon? Please leave comments below.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


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Monday, May 4, 2015

A Little Friendly Competition Between Siblings

Well I knew it was going to happen.

Having children so close together in age is great for so many reasons, like them having instant friends, dedicated partners in crime, and just the all-around fun of always having someone there to pick on or play with.

But this sometimes leads to some difficult decisions too.

This year my husband and I decided to have our 5-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son play on the same recreational soccer team. Registrants were described as needing to be in kindergarten or first grade. My daughter will be in kindergarten next year, so technically she is playing up a little, but my son is currently in first grade.

Let's start with the upside.

This decision has been great for both of them for so many reasons.

For my 5-year-old daughter this team is perfect. She is very athletic and listens really well for her age, so playing up has not been a problem at all. She doesn't seem to be intimidated by the 6- or 7-year-old giants that she is required to keep up with with, and she aggressively gets right in there with the older (and sometimes much, much taller) boys and girls to possess the soccer ball. This weekend she even got her first goal, the only one on our team to score.

For my 6-year-old son this team is also perfect. He is young for his grade, so often he plays on teams with his buddies, like in basketball or baseball, where he isn't as skilled or developed as some of his counterparts. He is an average kid when it comes to sports, he likes playing in the games, dislikes having to practice at home, but enjoys being involved. He does get discouraged sometimes though and doesn't have as much interest in participating in sports as much as his younger sister does.

However, in soccer, he has been a whole new kid!

Being one of the older players on this team has really done wonders for his self-esteem. When he would usually complain about running one lap around the outfield in baseball, he now gladly runs up and down the soccer field for an hour with no complaint. He assertively plays defense and he aggressively plays offense. He was kicked in the face with a soccer ball this weekend and didn't even flinch!

He surprises and amazes me every time I watch him play this season.

This weekend, my two players worked really well together during their game. I heard them communicating plays to each other when they were both on offense and my son even patiently walked his sister to her correct position, when she was confused about where to stand. It was really incredible and I had to swallow back a few tears.

But it isn't all easy with these two.

After the game, as I was congratulating my ecstatic daughter on her goal, my son became very jealous. I really wanted her to know how proud of her I was, but it was hard to balance both of their feelings.

All you care about is her, he said. All you are talking about is her goal.

I congratulated him on his great game too; he had some really great defensive kicks while helping the goalie defend. In fact, very little got by him. I told him that the team really needs him, and he is an important player on the team.

Then my daughter got jealous.

But I got a goal, she stubbornly said. That is what matters. Don't you care about me?

So this went back and forth, me commenting on one child, then their sibling hurtfully overreacting, then vice versa. I tried very hard to go back-and-forth with the compliments, but honestly after about 10 minutes I was about to lose my mind. I felt like I was talking in circles.

In the end, I am not sure how to handle this situation in the future. It is easier to support and congratulate them individually when they are not on the same team. However, when they are on the same team, it is difficult to encourage and praise one child, without the other feeling sad or left out.

We only have about a month of soccer left, but I am certain this is not the last time we will have situations like this happen. These two kiddos have a 3-year-old brother that will soon be in the mix too. And when it works out, it is so much easier for my husband and I if they play on the same team.

As we navigate though having our kids participate in youth sports I am sure we will figure out a fair balance of encouragement. Until then I guess I will have to continue to struggle.

I can say that I am not looking forward to the first time one child does really well and the other one really doesn't.

Before the game this weekend.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 Miles in 2015: April Summary

Team 2015 Miles is doing great. This was our best month ever!

I tallied 83.51 miles in April, happily exceeding my 60 mile goal. This was the first month where I finally felt back 100%, completely back on track since my injury. I am not surprised I accumulated more than my goal; I trained for and ran a half marathon on April. It just feels good to be able to run carefree again. In addition to running, I've been trying to incorporate a kickboxing workout or two per week, so I although I plan to try to exceed my goal for May as well, I will be saving some days this summer for kickboxing.

Brandi ROCKED it again this month with 61.92 miles, more than her goal too! She is a very consistent runner and as I watched her track her miles in MapMyRun this past month, I noticed that she really has been doing more distance running than anything else. I had the pleasure of running with her once in April when we tagged along for a long run with a friend, Jen Schmitt of JustAMomGivingItATri, that is training for a June marathon. Brandi does other kinds of workouts each week too, like biking, swimming and classes, so she tends to get her miles in during a few long runs per week, versus several smaller ones.

Brandi, Jen and I before a 12 mile run in April.

Kate is also doing awesome! Keeping in mind that she traveled across the globe this month (totally jealous!) and is in the midst of planning her wedding (which is in just two months) she was less than one mile short of her reaching her 60 miles goal! I am really proud of her as she continues to make this challenge a priority and life change, even though she has so much going on right now.

Kate, getting her miles in in Paris.

As you can see from the chart above, we are just where we need to be. We have accomplished 32% of our goal. About 33% of the year has passed, so if we stay on track, we will be able to accomplish our 2015 miles in 2015 goal.